Database project gets life and death priority

Tackling an IT project to safeguard information that could determine if people live or die is one the NSW Police is not taking lightly.

The development of an Informant Management System is the first of its kind in Australia, with police in other states planning to follow the NSW lead this year.

Details of the $1.5 million project, which is still being finalised, will be used to manage information between police and those providing confidential information about criminal activities.

It will replace the previous paper-based system. NSW Police manager of protected records acting inspector David Johnson said the intranet application will be completed by the end of 2002, adding that security is a top priority.

Johnson said it will be a stand alone J2EE compliant system with its own server and all information will have 128-bit encryption.

Acknowledging the information is highly sensitive, he said police access will be managed by a central registry.

"All police can have informants but only a selected few have a supervisory role in these relationships and full access to this information," he said.

While the use of informants is an essential investigative tool, Johnson said it has always been a high risk activity with the possibility of corruption which has been highlighted in recent royal commissions.

He said electronic records will more efficiently manage these relationships and provide a more detailed audit trail.

The system will have multi-media capabilities for images, movies and sound files and Johnson is confident the system will boost intelligient capabilities significantly.

The project is being undertaken by Technology One and the company's general manager of project services Peter Cameron said details of additional applications to protect the sensitive data is still being negotiated.

"For example we are still debating whether to encrypt the data in the actual database so even DBAs can't read it; if a name gets out people die," Cameron said.

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